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A.8 Early Christians

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church (Wikipedia)

There are many contemporary documents (for instance those found in Nag Hammadi and in Qumran) that are in contradiction with the official version of Jesus’ life as told in the New Testament. Moreover, the central Christian myth pre-dates Jesus Christ, and the outline of his story had been described before him. The Virgin birth in humble surrounding and the sacrificial death to save his people, for example, have been used many times before and in many cultures such as in Buddhism, in Greek mythology, in the Roman Empire, in Phrygia, in India, in Babylon, and in Tibet. The story of Mithra (600 BC), a very popular cult in the Roman Empire, is very similar as is the story of Zoroaster (1500-1200 BC) both born of a virgin and both resurrected.

The true name of Christ is not known and Jesus Christ is a later Greek title, Jesus being the Greek translation of Yehoshua, and Christ the equivalent of Messiah. It is possible that he was known as Yehoshua, meaning, “Yahweh delivers” or, in more modern language, Joshua.

To impose their credentials the Christians have taken over the Jewish Old Testament as long ago as the second century AD. It is also true that early Christians considered themselves to be Jews, and Christianity was seen as a Jewish sect until the end of the first century. Later on, with the majority of Christians being Gentile converts from all the Roman Empire, they cut their link with the Jews but they kept the old Jewish writings, and even made some additions to original twenty-two books of the Old Testament. The Jewish people of that time were expecting the arrival, not of god or a world saviour, but of political leader, a Messiah who would become the earthy King of Israel as David was. Jesus Christ was not this expected Jewish Messiah as he did not become King of Israel, and most probably the Jewish Jesus would agree with it as the meaning of the term Messiah was clear to all the Jews. From this it is clear too that the use by the Christian Church of the Old Testament as evidence regarding the coming of Christ is incorrect. Moreover, the use of the words “Son of God” for Jesus Christ is wrong too. This title was reserved for the kings who were assumed to descend from God through a virgin mother.

The man described as a murderer in the New Testament, who was released at the request of the Jewish crowd instead of Christ after his trial, was called Barabbas. This word is not a name, but a title meaning “Son of God”, and his name was Jesus but it was deleted of the writings later on. Moreover the Gospel describes Barabbas as a Jewish rebel responsible for an insurrection against the Romans. As a result he was not a murderer but a Jewish fanatic facing the same accusation as Jesus Christ. How do we know which one was released?

Early Christians believed that Jesus did not die on the cross and that somebody else died in his place. The Muslims, who recognise Jesus as a prophet, believe still that he did not die. The symbolism of the crucified Christ is central to the Christian faith, yet many groups of the time, and modern ones, believe that he did not die on the cross.

The above evidence does not come from Gnostic writings but from the New Testament itself. As a result it is believable that the legend of Jesus is a combination of traditions coming from different previous mystery religions. It could also be composite of the life of two or more men. It is possible that, at that time, the Romans moved against all known Jewish troublemakers who were creating problem to the Empire with, in addition, the rumour about the arrival of a Messiah, a possible pretender to the Kingdom of Israel. It is well known that the Sicari, armed Zealot fanatics, were already killing as many Romans as possible as well as their Jewish collaborators. It would be normal for the Romans to try to solve the problem before it was too late.

A first explanation could be that there were two competing Messiahs in Judea at the same time. Both would be called Jesus because this is the name of the Jewish saviour foreseen in the Scriptures. One could have been known as “Jesus, King of the Jews” and the other “Jesus, Son of God”. Pontius Pilatus offered to let one free to appease the crowd. Having to choose between the kingly and the priestly Messiah, the people chose to save the latter. The stories of these two Messiahs are so merged together that we do not know if the “real” Jesus was crucified or released. Those sects that say that he was not crucified are right, and so are the Christian orthodox who say that he was crucified.

A second possibility could be that, to fulfil the Old Testament’s predictions, two Messiahs were required, a kingly Messiah from the tribe of Judas, the royal line of David, and a priestly Messiah from the tribe of Levi. Both were tried together and the kingly Messiah was crucified and the other released. Mary’s son claimed to be a Messiah of the line of David through Joseph, Mary’s husband, who according to the Gospel was not Jesus’ father. If this is true then Mary’s son could not be the kingly Messiah but he could still be the priestly one, the “Son of God”, since Mary was from the line of Levi. In this case this Jesus did not die on the cross.

The population of Judea was divided in three main groups.

. The Sadducees were the conservative priestly and aristocratic bureaucracy. They were wealthy and powerful, and they ran the country for the Romans.

. The Pharisees were devoted to the law and tried to apply it in all occasions. They imposed an interpretation of the law that was to be followed by everybody. They were the equivalent of the modern orthodox Jews although they were responsible for the decentralisation of the worship from the Temple of Jerusalem to all synagogues run by local rabbi.

. The Essenes lived in the desert near Qumran, and they were more orthodox than the Pharisees were. They had many points in common with the early Christians of the original Jerusalem Church, the Nasoreans. It is generally accepted that James the Just, Jesus’ brother, was their leader for many years while being at the same time the first bishop of Jerusalem. Membership of the Essenes was only through individual choice, not by birth. They were said to have a new covenant with God. They translated the Hebrew writings from Hebrew to Aramaic, the language of the local Jews of that time and place. To avoid problems with the Roman authorities, like Jesus, they used metaphors. For instance Jesus divided the people in “those of the world”, the pagans who refused to believe in Him, and “those not of the world”, that is Jesus and his followers. These last ones were also said to be from “the Kingdom of Heaven” or “the Kingdom of God”, although they lived on earth and not in heaven. The Gentiles later on used these words literally, as they liked the idea of a paradise to where good people would go after their death.

The scrolls discovered at Qumran confirmed this similarity between the early Christians and the Essenes, but the Catholic Church tried to hide it. Now it looks probable that Jesus Christ was also an Essene in the third and fourth decades of the first century. There were many levels of membership; initiation to the higher grades required vows of secrecy similar to the Masonic ones. They wore white robes, took vows of poverty, swore to secrecy under threat of terrible punishment, and claimed to have secret knowledge. All this is very similar to the Templar and the Masonic rituals. The Templars excavated under Herod’s temple and, if they found something, it must have been the treasure described in the Copper Scroll discovered in one of the Qumran caves that records the treasures hidden under the Temple. If the Essenes and early Christians were one and the same thing, this would mean that the Templars found the “purest possible Christian documents”, more important than the Synoptic Gospels! The Qumran Essenes, the Templars, and the Freemasons are moreover linked together by the fact that all focus on the mystical and physical rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple.

Christianity was codified at the Council of Nicaea of 325 AD which met under the Chairmanship of Constantine the Great. Among other things it decided to reject the Arius’s doctrine which said that Jesus Christ could not be God, or divine, because he was a man. Instead the Council adopted Athanasius’s view who claimed that the father and the Son were of one substance. Heresy was also defined: what the Emperor Constantine said was true, the rest was heresy. Many scriptures were banned with the label “Gnostic” put on them.

In choosing the books to destroy, the truth was irrelevant. The Church wanted to eliminate all contradiction to its chosen doctrine with the result that, up to a few years ago, very little was known about Jesus Christ beside the little given in the New Testament. It is difficult to believe that such an important man left so little trace. It is more probable that this is due to the work of the Catholic censors who destroyed everything that presented Jesus as a man rather than a God. The Church went as far as burning the whole of the library of Alexandria in Egypt that contained the largest collection of books on Christianity. Fortunately they did not succeed to eliminate all the writings, and even some of those that were approved give us some useful information. Clement of Alexandria was allowed to write, in the second century, that there was a secret Gospel in the Christian Church, and that a secret initiation ceremony, created by Jesus, was reserved to the more advanced members. All this is very similar to what is done in the Craft. In addition this secret tradition is included in the Bible, but only the initiates can interpret the parables to reveal their true meaning. Another second century writer, Hippollytus, describes a heretical sect known as the Naassenes that claims to have some secret beliefs coming directly from James, Jesus’ brother.

Jesus and his followers were originally called Nasoreans or Nazarenes (although no town called Nazareth was known at that time). Jesus was obviously a member of this sect, but there is no proof that he was its first leader. If this is true then Jesus was not the founder of the Church. Their symbol was a fish and not a cross, and this showns that Jesus’ crucifixion was not considered that important to them. Epiphanius speaks of a pre-Christian group called the Nasaraioi, which is the sect from which Jesus came from, not as a leader, but as a member. It seems obvious that Jesus was not from the town of Nazareth, but he was a member of the Nasorean sect that still survive today in southern Iraq as part of the larger Mandaean sect that traces it origin back to John the Baptist. Their rituals and initiation are very similar to those of the Freemasons, and their priests are called “Nasoreans”. They take their name from the word “Manda” that means “secret knowledge”. They use a ritual handshake called “Kushta” that means “Righteousness”, or doing the right things. This is typically a Masonic ritual. They also say a silent prayer when their initiates are considered to be ritually dead, just as the most secret words of Freemasonry are whispered into the ear of the Master Mason candidate when he is raised from his symbolic death. The Mandaeans believe that Jesus, once one of their members, betrayed them possibly revealing some of their secrets. (8)

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